Kasey Chambers: 10 Essential Tracks

In just over a month Byron Bay will welcome some of the biggest local and international acts for its annual Bluesfest music gathering.

Among the local headliners is Kasey Chambers, who, after spending her entire life as a performer, became the youngest solo female artist to be inducted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame in 2018.

This year marks 20 years after her first solo appearance at Bluesfest as well 20 years since the release of her debut album The Captain, an album that won Chambers the ARIA  for Best Country Album and Best Female Artist.

In celebration, Kasey Chambers will appear for a first time exclusive performance at Bluesfest 2019, playing the songs of The Captain alongside a “best of” set. So, to get you prepped, here are 10 essential Kasey Chambers tracks to catch up on before Bluesfest kicks off.

1. The Captain, The Captain (1999)

Where better place to start than the title track of that aforementioned 1999 ARIA-winning debut album The Captain. The release of this song, and the album that came with it, was the culmination of over a decade of touring with her family’s Dead Ringer Band and saw Kasey breakthrough as a solo artist.

2. Better Be Home Soon, The Captain (1999)

Sure, this might not strictly be a Kasey Chambers song in the traditional sense but her 1999 recording of one of Crowded House’s biggest tracks plays as if it was made for Kasey. In fact, it’s her second most-played song on Spotify to date.

3. Not Pretty Enough, Barricades & Brickwalls (2001)

There’s a beautiful irony in the fact one of Kasey’s most successful singles to date is about being ignored by commercial radio. Upon its release in 2001, ‘Not Pretty Enough’ became more than just a statement about the music business. It was co-opted as an anthem for people all over Australia who felt inadequate at one time or another in their lives.

4. Goliath Is Dead, Campfire (2018)

Kasey Chambers’ most recent album was something of a throwback to her roots, referencing her childhood growing up on the Nullabor Plain with her family. ‘Goliath Is Dead’ is one of the tracks from the record that best sums up this sentiment, with the song and album co-credited to the Fireside Disciples (Kasey’s long-term guitarist Brandon Dodd, Kasey’s father Bill Chambers and Yawuru elder Alan Pigram).

5. If We Had A Child (ft. Keith Urban), Dragonfly (2017)

Undoubtedly two of Australia’s best ever country singers, it was perhaps only a matter of time before we heard a collaborative track from Kasey and Keith. ‘If We Had A Child’ was recorded for her 2017 album Dragonfly, and its perfect mix of wistful harmonies and tasteful guitar make it one of Kasey’s best songs of recent years.

6. Pony, Wayward Angel (2004)

One of the most recognisable bass lines in Aussie country music, if not Australian music in general. ‘Pony’ is the lead track from Kasey’s 2004 album Wayward Angel and also features some of her textbook yodelling.

7.True Colours (Cyndi Lauper Cover, 2003)

Another of her biggest anthems, ‘True Colours’ wasn’t originally written by Kasey Chambers but she undoubtedly made it her own. The song gained extra momentum as it was used as the official anthem of 2003 Rugby World Cup, held right here in Australia.

8.Nothing At All, Carnival (2006)

Kasey’s 2006 album Carnival signified something of a change from her solo music which to that point had a more traditional country style. The album, and lead single ‘Nothing At All’, were a move to a more roots-influenced blues, while the record carried more driving energy overall than we’d been used to from the singer.

9. Rattlin’ Bones, Rattlin’ Bones (2008)

The title track from an album written by Kasey and her then-husband Shane Nicholson, ‘Rattlin’ Bones’ came about after a long desire to record such a project. Unsurprisingly, the record ended up featuring Kasey and Shane’s voices in tandem, and they complimented each other with a deep understanding and shared musical feeling. It was named by Country Universe as the second-best country album of the decade.

10. Hollywood, Wayward Angel (2004)

‘Hollywood’ was the first single released on 2004 album Wayward Angel and was her fifth Top 40 hit in five years. It’s one of many of Kasey Chambers songs that really shows off her vocal range, as well as her ability to shape different lyrics musically to give off such a multitude of vocal timbres.

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